A guide to flawless field service – Employee Engagement

May 25 • Features, Management • 860 Views • No Comments on A guide to flawless field service – Employee Engagement

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Laurent Othacehe, CEO, Cognito iQ looks at why employee engagement is a critical pillar for achieving field service excellence and offers some crucial advice for field service companies seeking to how best to ensure they are getting the most out of their most important asset – their field service staff…

Field service is not just about IT and processes, nor is it just about parts and engineering. It is about people, this is why employee engagement is one of three fundamental aspects, alongside improving productivity and meeting customer expectations, that can lead to what we view at Cognito iQ as flawless field service.

If you want to know more about this topic there is a white paper available to fieldservicenews.com subscribers. Not a subscriber? If you are a field service professional you can apply for a complimentary industry practitioner subscription.

Click here to apply for your subscription and we’ll send you a copy of the white paper Flawless Field Service: Employee Engagement as thanks for your application

To find out more about the many benefits of being a fieldservicenews.com subscriber and to understand how we store and may use your data please visit our subscriptions page here

What is employee engagement?

So what do we mean by employee engagement?

If you Google it, you’ll get any number of definitions, but we like this one from not-for-profit organisation Engage for Success.

“Employee engagement is a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organisation to give their best each day, commit to their organisation’s goals and values and contribute to the organisational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being. Employee engagement is based on trust, integrity, two-way commitment and communication between an organisation and its members”.

It’s also important to say what employee engagement isn’t. It isn’t manipulative. It’s not a cynical attempt to wring productivity from employees with spurious benefits. It isn’t an annual employee engagement survey – although it can be measured – and it should only be measured if doing so leads to positive change.

This means that employee engagement must be win-win for employees and their employers. It can’t be imposed from above. It’s about creating a cultural shift in the way organisations behave.

Key drivers of employee engagement include the following:

  • A culture of trust, fairness and respect for employees and management
  • A culture of teamwork and co-operation
  • Clarity on goals, constructive feedback and support to succeed
  • Quality training and clear job progression
  • Work-life balance and work that makes the most of people’s skills
  • Empowerment, autonomy and a sense that people’s ideas are valued

 

Why employee engagement matters

In the UK, only around a third of employees are ‘engaged’. Engaged employees tend to be happy in their jobs, enthusiastic about their work, committed and driven.

This matters, not only for the wellbeing of the remaining two thirds of UK workers, but also because study after study has linked employee engagement to improved productivity, customer satisfaction, growth and profitability, as well as a whole raft of other business metrics, including employee retention; innovation; safety incidents; product quality and defects; shrinkage and theft; and sickness and absenteeism. And whilst engaged employees can bring business benefits, the reverse is also true.

A US study found that there are 51% of US workers who are not engaged, and a further 16% who can be defined as ‘actively disengaged’; whilst workers who are ‘not engaged’ tend to be indifferent – they are just showing up for their pay-check – those that are actively disengaged can be resentful and disruptive, taking up managers’ time, seeking out ways to ‘cheat the system’ and even sabotaging the work done by others.

 

Employee engagement in field service

1. The nature of the work:

Remote workers can feel isolated, which reduces engagement. It is important to ensure that they feel connected to the main office, and also feel part of a team, whether that is at a local or regional level, or by job specialisation.

Field service has traditionally been low-tech which has meant a lot of tedious paperwork – necessary but not as satisfying as helping customers and solving service issues

As back-office management don’t always have good visibility of how work is actually done in the field, they might not understand how to empower and enable workers to do their jobs and may have created processes that are unhelpful or counter-productive.

In addition, field service has traditionally been low-tech which has meant a lot of tedious paperwork – necessary but not as satisfying as helping customers and solving service issues – so it is important to automate some of these admin tasks, as well as give workers electronic access to the information they need to do their jobs, such as product manuals and parts databases.

2. The nature of the workforce:

There is an ageing workforce, with the average age of the field service worker being 40 years old – and many of the older baby-boomer generation engineers are starting to retire.

To fill the skills gap in field service will mean both keeping older engineers on for the long haul by retraining and re-skilling them, as well as attracting and training new younger engineers. Engagement is essential here as it is costly to train up new workers only to have them job-hop to a competitor for a slightly better rate pay or better benefits.

3. The nature of the industry:

As products become commoditised, companies are relying on the quality of their service to differentiate from competitors. Field service workers are the face of the brand and often the only company representative that customers interact with. Engaged employees are more likely to give great customer service than disengaged employees.

The most forward-thinking companies are wise to the potential of field service workers

The most forward-thinking companies are wise to the potential of field service workers. They are considering ways to upsell other products and services during their visits and are turning field operations departments into profit centres. Technology is also changing the skills needed on the job. Connected devices are reducing some of the tasks that field workers need to do, such as routine maintenance checks, but they are creating new data, which means that workers will need analytical skills.

Technologies such as virtual or augmented reality are also changing the ways that workers carry out their tasks. Workers may see these new skill requirements as a threat – however, companies that are good at engaging their employees see these developments as opportunities to offer training, career progression and the satisfaction that comes from being part of an up-to-date and modern company.

If you want to know more about this topic there is a white paper available to fieldservicenews.com subscribers. Not a subscriber? If you are a field service professional you can apply for a complimentary industry practitioner subscription.

Click here to apply for your subscription and we’ll send you a copy of the white paper Flawless Field Service: Employee Engagement as thanks for your application

To find out more about the many benefits of being a fieldservicenews.com subscriber and to understand how we store and may use your data please visit our subscriptions page here

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